Find a patch of green, a park, a wild open space and come autumn the place will undoubtedly transform into a veritable treasure trove of gold and ruby red vegetation with a crunchy amber carpet of fallen leaves, often sparkling in the sunlight. And in that month before the carpet turns to a dull sludge, the world is truly magical!
In most cities, you’d have to find the nearest park to indulge in a spot of autumn magic, but that’s what’s so great about Amsterdam. The tree-lined canals of the city centre mean that at this time of year, around every corner you’ll find another stunning autumnal scene! And one of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to soak up the atmosphere and get lost by wandering alongside the canals.
Visiting at just the right time means that in addition to the gorgeous autumn colour, the tree canopy has thinned out enough that you can admire the beautiful canal-side architecture through the leaves and get views you’d otherwise find obscured through late spring and summer.
At the same time, scenes aren’t as stark and dull as when all leaves have fallen, leaving only angular twig skeletons to frame the streets.
The image of the Westerkerk below illustrates just that: the tower is fully visible but with just a few golden leaves providing the perfect setting and in photography terms – great colour and composition.
Floating leaves on the water surface currently look beautiful and like dappled dots of light, but in another month or so will no doubt clag up the canal edges looking muddy.
Boats fill with leaves providing a wry smile – I certainly wouldn’t like to be the person who has to clear it all out before use!
And entrances to houseboats look all the more picturesque!
Some iconic buildings like the Rijksmuseum become more visible, with views normally hidden behind summer vegetation suddenly featuring in Instagram feeds. I loved being able to see architecture of the museum without all the people that congregate in front of the main entrance and the ‘IAmsterdam’ sign.
Similarly, many of the quaint frontages of houses in the Begijnhof courtyard are uncovered in autumn, normally disguised by a green canopy. As an enclosed courtyard the Begijnhof generally doesn’t receive as much light as neighbouring canals and squares; so with leaves mainly on the floor, we’re treated to an uninterrupted display of some of the finest architecture in Amsterdam, including the restored 15th century wooden house at no.34.
Basically, autumnal Amsterdam just looks pretty and colourful and the light heavenly; but try not to get run down by cyclists while taking photo… after photo… after (yep, you guessed it)… photo!
And if wandering the canals aren’t enough for your autumn treasure trove, you can always head to one of the parks such as Vondelpark or Oosterpark.
My favourite place to soak up the autumnal atmosphere is along the Prinsengracht Canal between Leidsegracht and Leliegracht near the Westerkerk. Hopefully you’ll see why in the following photos and be as transfixed as I was.
Have you visited Amsterdam in the autumn? What’s your favourite season to visit the city?